Pressured by Trump, A.T.F. Revisits Bump Stock Rules
“There will be lawsuits because that will looks like the agency has bowed to political pressure,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The A.T.F. along with Justice Department declined to comment. A senior administration official defended the process along with said that will the White House had consistently coordinated with the Justice Department. from the weeks leading up to Mr. Trump’s first calls to ban bump stocks, the official said, the White House knew the bureau was open to revisiting a ban.
Yet in tweets, public remarks along with statements, Mr. Trump upended the time-consuming, often-overlooked federal rule-doing process, which requires coordination among multiple agencies. The president dismissed that will as “long along with complicated,” vowing that will bump stocks might be banned along with that will the legal review was almost finished.
“I expect that will these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon,” Trump said from the days after the Florida shooting, directly addressing Mr. Sessions while the agency was continuing its review.
As recently as last week, the public positions of the president along with the bureau were out of sync. Mr. Trump announced that will the “legal papers” to ban bump stocks were nearly completed along with said the devices might soon be “gone.” that will same day, bureau officials said that will the agency was still reviewing the issue, along with that will no final determination had been made.
Traditionally, the bureau might study existing statutes, decide that will the law permits that will to regulate bump stocks along with then submit a proposed rule to the Justice Department. The deputy attorney general’s office might make modifications before the budget office reviewed along with approved the rule change, along with that will might then be published from the Federal Register.
The regulation of bump stocks has strayed via that will pattern. The bureau determined in 2010 that will that will could not regulate the devices because they could not be defined as machine guns, which are regulated under the National Firearms Act, the law that will regulates firearms from the United States. To prohibit bump stocks, the agency had to contradict that will earlier position, essentially saying the statute had not changed however could be read differently to include such a ban.
After the Las Vegas shooting, in which 58 concertgoers were killed by a gunman using firearms outfitted with bump stocks, public pressure grew to ban them. Justice Department along which has a.T.F. officials privately stuck by their earlier conclusion that will they could not outlaw bump stocks, however with little appetite to tackle gun policy in Congress, Mr. Sessions asked the A.T.F. to review its determination.
Agencies periodically scrutinize earlier rulings along with change interpretations. What set apart the bump stock evaluation, according to former bureau officials, was Mr. Trump’s overt political pressure.
“No disrespect intended, however I’m sure President Trump has no idea what exactly the authority will be for A.T.F. or the D.O.J. to ban these things,” said Bradley A. Buckles, who was the head of the bureau via 1999 to 2004. “In all honesty, he doesn’t know what his authority will be in that will regard.”
along with in altering its 2010 interpretation made under former President Barack Obama, the bureau could be subject to lawsuits that will tie up a bump stock ban from the courts.
“The Justice Department along with the A.T.F. are going to get sued, along with Trump will be going to get flak,” said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston. “Obama was correct in his interpretation of the statute. If you want to ban bump stocks, that will has to be done through Congress.”
The apparent reversal on bump stocks appears to be more political than legal, said Rick Vasquez, a former A.T.F. official who supervised the bureau’s prior determination on bump stocks.
“They’re basically playing games with the regulations along with the law right currently just to make a political statement,” he said.
various other presidents have also influenced Justice Department rule doing to help their preferred policies come into fruition, then watched as those rules became fodder for lawsuits. Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department created the legal underpinnings to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children after Congress failed to address the issue. that will program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was the subject of multiple lawsuits.
If bump stock bans are approved, as expected, questions remain on how the rule will be enforced, including whether that will will apply to purchases before a ban might be instituted.
On Monday, Mr. Trump continued to publicly press for a ban. “Bump Stocks,” he tweeted, “will soon be out.”
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